The First 15 Years of OneGoal
The obstacles that stand in the way of students achieving their dreams loom as large as they did 15 years ago. The difference is that we now know what it takes to help students overcome those obstacles. Let’s look back at how asking tough questions, taking bold action, and prioritizing authentic relationships led OneGoal to become the leader in postsecondary access and success we are today.
Call to Action
The Chicago Tribune page-one story on April 21, 2006, sent a shock wave through the city with the headline “Of 100 Chicago Public School Children, Six Will Get a College Degree.” Jeff Nelson, a 6th-grade teacher on the south side, remembers looking up at his classroom of 32 students and wondering which two would be the lucky ones to graduate from college.
Forming an Organization
Before OneGoal became OneGoal, it was Urban Students Empowered. US Empowered started in the 2003-04 school year as an after-school program for 32 students. In 2007, Jeff joined the founding team to pilot what would become the touchstone of OneGoal’s model as an in-school classroom program, which served 200 students by 2009. Read more in this interview with Matt King, one of the six co-founders.
Our First Cohorts
Six teachers became our first Program Directors leading cohorts of students through our curriculum. In many ways they are co-founders too, as their insights and experience shaped and evolved our curriculum in those critical early years. Fun fact: Lindsey continues to lead at OneGoal, now as the Managing Director of Program Foundations in Chicago.
After operating from a coffee shop for the first few years, US Empowered leased our first Chicago office space in 2011. With a new home office, expanding team, and venture funding from A Better Chicago, conditions for long-term sustainability and continued impact were set.